Opinion

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by Siobhan Richards

Under new leadership, the library is embracing a newly enforced policy — no lunches are allowed. This policy denies students who do not feel comfortable in the cafeteria access to their lunches during their designated lunch break, a problem that needs to be addressed.

Jes Caron, the new librarian, has been making changes to the library. While the policy of banning lunch is practical in keeping the library clean, it does not allow students to eat.

It has always been a school policy to not allow food anywhere but in the cafeteria and especially not in carpeted areas, such as classrooms or the library, but because it is open during lunch, students used to be able to bring food in and eat as long as they cleaned up and were not near the computers.

Now, the librarian has been strictly enforcing this policy and has even put up multiple signs and posters around the library.

The concerns over food in the library are valid, such as not allowing lunch near the computers due to risk of spilling, and it is also not in the librarian’s job description to clean up after students.

Small tidy snacks have been allowed thus far; however, students cannot be expected to eat a few snacks and call it lunch.

Nonetheless, students need a place to go if they are uncomfortable or intimidated by the loud and noisy cafeteria. The library is the only safe-haven for students at lunch time, and because of the lunch policy many students are sacrificing their health.

“Lunch is extremely important for high school students for a number of reasons. Students need to maintain their nutritional value throughout the day,” said Wellness teacher Wayne Page. “It’s not good to not eat for a significant portion of the day. A student needs breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as everything in between, especially for students at this age group of eighth to twelfth grade.”

As a teacher who also has lunch duty, Page understands the concerns of eating in the cafeteria saying, “I can see how some students would be a little intimidated by the number of kids that are in the cafeteria.”

He later added that there are lots of tables for students to choose from within the cafeteria, which also raises the concern of friend groups and cliques inside school. For some, the cafeteria is a struggle as students search for a group they fit in with in order to find a seat at a table.

There should be another room in the school that is available at lunchtime for students, and in the past, that place was the library. It is a nice and somewhat quiet area for students to do schoolwork, and there is a section of tables that could serve as lunch tables.

We should find a compromise on this issue.

Students should not be able to eat while at the computers to keep the school’s property clean as well as reserving resources for students. Those other tables, however, should be open for students to eat their lunch. Students who clean up after themselves pose no problem to the library or its staff.

The library should regulate food more strictly than the cafeteria does. For example, students should not bring soup or greasy foods to the library, but the average sandwich should not be a problem.

In terms of the clean up effort, students could clean those tables just as a group of students cleans the cafeteria tables every day.

Lunch should not be approached as all-or-nothing issue. That policy hurts the students that the library is supposed to help.

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by Alex McDonald

With 70-minute blocks a day, students find it difficult to stay on task for all of their classes. Out of 104 students who took the survey on class length and its impact, 95 don’t pay attention all of class. That’s 91%. This causes kids to miss important information, and it could explain why their homework isn’t done or why they failed a test or a quiz. However this issue does have two possible solutions: shortening class times and rethinking the way teachers teach.

As you can imagine, shortening class times wouldn’t drastically change the schedule, maybe just trim 10 minutes off each block to allow for another block a day or a study hall period.

In her editorial on the addition of study halls, Serena Richards published a schedule that would accommodate all of the state’s regulations and include shorter blocks, and maybe even a study period.

 

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Period 1

7:30-8:36

Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G Block E Block C
Period 2 8:40-9:46 Block B Block G Block E Block C Block A Block F Block D
Study Hall 9:50-10:10 Block C study hall Block A study hall Block F study hall Block D study hall Block B study hall Block G study hall Block E study hall
Period 3 10:14 – 11:20 Block C Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G Block E
Period 4 11:24- 12:56

(lunch)

Block D Block B Block G Block E Block C Block A Block F
Period 5 1:00- 2:03 Block E Block C Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G
Drop Blocks F,G drop D,E drop B,C drop G,A drop E,F drop C,D drop A,B drop

 

Lunch 1 Lunch 2 Lunch 3
11:25-11:51  (23) 11:25-11:55 (30) 11:20-12:25 (66)
11:5-12:56 (66) 11:59-12:22 (23) 12:29-12:56 (23)
12:26-12:56 (30)

Schedule created by Lucy deMartin, Breanna Lizotte and Siobhan Richards

 

This schedule still follows all of the educational laws and allows for an extra block in the day. Also this schedule only trims off five minutes from each block. If we were to cut off a little more, even ten minutes, we would have enough time in the day to have six full blocks of education. Blocks would be 60 minutes.

But many would argue against shorter class times because they believe that students would have trouble paying attention no matter the amount of time.  

For example a recent article published in 2014 talks about a study done by psychologists.

According to this study, teenagers have trouble maintaining focus on one thing for an extended period of time. They are able to pay attention to something for about 10-20 minutes, but then they have to refocus. For every time they refocus, their span of attention decreases by 2-5 minutes.

This attention lapse would happen no matter the material or length. Also, the article describing this study was published in 2014. Now, three years later, technology has become an even bigger part of our lives. It mentions in the article that technology can potentially shorten your attention span, so it is possible that the average attention span of a student has gotten shorter since 2014.

According to this study, shorter class times would only help students pay attention if we limited blocks to 20 minutes or less.

However, there is another way to solve this issue. A different article written by a doctor in 2014 also talks about the problem of students not being able to pay attention. This article says that if teachers were to present material in a different way it would help. The article says that if teachers make classes more engaging instead of simply lecturing, students would be able to pick up information and retain it.

Students not being able to pay attention is a problem, but it is a problem we can fix. This isn’t only up to students however; it is teachers who can really make a difference and help students pay attention throughout class.

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by Serena Richards

Adding a study hall into our academic schedule would be beneficial for students and teachers. A study hall would give students time in the day away from traditional time on learning. It’s important to give students the opportunity to take a break and work on homework or de-stress from their academics, as well as seeking help from teachers. Unfortunately many schools in our area don’t have this period.

Most schools oppose study hall, at least in Massachusetts, because of the state law requiring 990 hours of “Time on Learning.” However, in our schedule, we are currently exceeding the 990 hours. A student at Hudson High goes to five different 70-minute blocks in one day, which adds up to 66,813 minutes of “time on learning” a year, which is equivalent to 1,113.55 hours.  

Technically, our schedule allows us to take four minutes off each full day block and add a 20-minute study hall block, and we would still exceed the state’s 990 hours of time on learning. Even with five, 66-minute blocks, it makes 63,513 minutes of “time on learning” a year, which is equivalent to 1,058.55 hours, leaving us still exceeding the law.

An info-graphic comparing how many hours of learning Hudson High completes a year with and without adding a study hall period.
An infographic comparing how many hours of learning Hudson High completes a year with and without adding a study hall period.


Another major argument against a study hall is that teachers don’t see that students are working hard enough in class, so they most likely wouldn’t work during a study hall period. But many students are under so much stress from homework and projects, that they would take advantage of extra time to get help from teachers and peers if they are unable to stay after.

This became so noticeable that three sophomores last year – Lucy deMartin, Breanna Lizotte and Siobhan Richards – decided to do something about it. The group of girls who were taking Psychology decided to look into a study hall period and how it could fit in our schedule with all of the Massachusetts educational regulations. They saw it as a way to combat the stress students are developing from their class loads. For their final project they made a schedule implementing a 20-minute study hall with slightly shorter blocks to offer time for students to get help from teachers and work on their academics.

Ideally, we would implement a 20-minute study hall period right after second block. Students would first report to their third block class at 9:50, and the teacher of that class would take some form of attendance. In this time, students would be able to work on homework and projects from the seven classes they take each term, and if given permission, students could seek help from various teachers or visit the library, if given a pass.  

Screenshot (6)
A five period, 66-minute block schedule, adding in a 20-minute study hall; created by Breanna Lizotte, Lucy deMartin, and Siobhan Richards.
Screenshot (2)
Our current bell schedule with five, 70-minute blocks, implemented in 2013.

Not only would this study hall act as a period of time for students to get help and to get organized, but it could also benefit teachers. This offers additional time for them to be able to help students who aren’t able to stay after or help those struggling in a class. It also gives the opportunity to give them extra time in the day to grade assignments and work on lesson plans.

Pie chart
A pie chart showing the results of a 100- student survey about whether having a study hall period would benefit their education.

It imperative that we allow a study hall period for students. They are at school studying and participating in active learning for nearly six hours. Then they are being assigned anywhere from two to four hours of homework based off the student’s course load. In a recent survey, given to 100 English students in 8th grade to 12th grade, 84 agreed that adding a study hall period would be helpful in furthering their education.  

With all this new information, why don’t we give the students what they want?

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The Washington St. Bridge as viewed from a pathway shortly downstream. | by Dakota Antelman

by Thomas Hydro

As the rest of the state is preparing for what could be a harsh winter, Hudson is preparing for a completely different kind of storm. At the beginning of November, work crews began preparations for the project that promises to bring Hudson’s newfound bustling downtown life to a standstill.

The town of Hudson has decided to rebuild the Washington Street bridge that sits right outside of the downtown area — the main route in and out of town. The construction plan was presented because of a project being undertaken by the Mass Department of Transportation (DOT) to widen roadways and make them safer for travel. The proposed plan is expected to cost around $3,000,000 and take approximately 14 months, with it being expected to be open to traffic in eight of those months according to a DOT handout.

Regardless of the intentions of the reconstruction, this project will surely cause many problems for many people.

As Hudson has welcomed new businesses to its downtown area like the Rail Trail, New City Creamery, and Medusa, it has become a buzzing town even on weeknights. But, with the bridge expected to be closed for around half of the construction process, these businesses could see a drop in business. Having difficulty reaching their destination may turn customers away from going to these businesses. This may be true for only a handful of people, but it still takes away from the profits of businesses in town.

In addition to this potential drop in business, this could make winter travel even more difficult for the people of Hudson. With one of the main routes in and out of town being closed down for the winter, drivers will have to find alternate routes on side roads that may become backed up, making commutes longer, and possibly more dangerous. And with the winter that may be coming our way, the construction may see delay after delay, drawing out inconveniences to the public even longer.

Another issue that this will cause is the bus routes to the high school will have to be changed. As a student who uses the bus to get to school, I can say that my bus and several others use the Washington Street bridge to get onto Brigham Street in the mornings. As construction begins and the bridge closes, the bus routes will have to be altered to find another way to get to the high school. Buses may need to begin their routes earlier to account for the additional time it will take to reach the school, meaning that kids will have to get up even earlier, depriving them of much needed rest before each school day.

The construction may be needed, but the timing is incredibly poor as winter begins to set in and students going to school rely on the bridge to get them to their destination every school day.

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by Dakota Antelman

by Lilah Mercadante

Most of us have taken a selfie before, some more than others. There is nothing wrong with snapping a photo of yourself. The trouble comes when you post it on social media. I am an active Instagram user, and I would argue it is the most popular form of social media among my generation. Selfies appear in my newsfeed daily. With these pictures come a string of compliments consisting of emojis and words like, ‘hot’ and ‘babe.’ These comments are self-esteem boosters for the person in the picture.

Of course, what’s wrong with a little self-esteem boost? Isn’t it a good thing to build self-confidence? Yes. But it should be coming from yourself. When a flood of compliments flash on your screen, this boost is coming from other people. It is not inner love, created from self-appreciation. This is where the problems start.

We all know what that feels like if we have posted a selfie before. When you see the notification pop up on your lockscreen and you open the app to see a number next to a heart, it causes a happy reaction. The bigger the number, the better you feel about yourself.

But when this doesn’t happe,n we inflict negative feelings on ourselves.

What happens when you are used to getting 200 likes and 15 adoring comments on your selfies? What happens when you don’t? Every time someone prepares to post a selfie, they hold it in the same esteem as the ones they have posted before. So when they post a selfie and it doesn’t elicit the same response as previous pictures, they wonder, “What is worse about me now?”

Just a few weeks ago, I heard one of my friends say, “It [her selfie] only got 60 likes, so I took it down.”

This is what happens. A lack of positive response from the public can cause a person to feel ugly and bad about themselves. We disregard our own initial appreciation of the photo and replace those happy feelings with the worrisome and depressing feelings we get from public reaction. This reveals that we consider other people’s opinions to be more important than our own.

The silly thing about this is: it is our face and our body in the picture. It has nothing to do with anybody else. So why do we care? Beauty is subjective like art. Some people like modern art, and some people only like watercolors. Some people double tap only on pictures of brunettes, and some people scroll right past people who aren’t tan. Does this mean everyone has to be tan and have brown hair? Of course not.

As cheesy as it sounds, we need to love ourselves. If you post a picture only to get a small response, leave it up. Admire it. Next time you post a selfie think about how it is going to make you feel. Your lockscreen could be ambushed with likes and comments, or it could be sparse. Just remember my warning: Selfies may cause negative feelings, lack of self-esteem, and impending sadness.

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Massachusetts's electoral college members convened at the Massachusetts State House on Dec. 19 to cast their votes for democrat Hillary Clinton. While Clinton won Massachusett's votes, she fell 38 electoral votes short of the 270 needed to win the presidency. | by Andy Connolly

by Jake Doherty Munro

The 2016 Presidential election ended last month and has now given way to a heated debate about the electoral college. This is largely due to the fact that, as has happened before, the winner of the election was the loser of the popular vote. This is the fourth time it has happened, and each time has caused a comparable amount of outcry – generally by whichever side lost. As such, a substantial number of Democrats are now calling for the abolition of the electoral college for reasons ranging from the fact that they believe it to be undemocratic, to their belief that the electoral college causes candidates to focus too heavily on so-called “swing states.” These reasons are, however, misguided, and while the electoral college has its flaws, the path to improving our elections lies not in repealing it, but reforming it.

The most common grievance levied against the electoral college is that is it undemocratic and makes individual votes irrelevant. While there is a fairly strong argument to back this claim, there is also a simple fact that refutes that argument, and that is that America simply is not a democracy. When America was founded, it was not only done so upon the ideal of being a virtuous republic, but also on the founders’ genuine fear of democracy (which they referred to as “mob rule”), and it was these values that the electoral college grew out of. So, yes: the electoral college is undemocratic. However, so is America.

Another complaint frequently voiced about the electoral college is that it causes candidates to focus too heavily on “swing states,” who do not consistently vote for one party or another, and to ignore more solidly liberal or conservative states, whose votes candidates’ campaigns consider to be locked up one way or another.

This is true, and it happens in every campaign, but it is not necessarily a bad thing: in fact, it often serves to give smaller states a voice, which could otherwise be overpowered by states with a larger population should the President be decided by popular vote. For example, New Hampshire lays claim to only four electoral college votes, yet in each presidential election, it has been one of the most contested and campaigned-in states, in both primary and general elections. This seems strange, as those four votes appear minuscule when compared to the fifty-five votes of California, thirty-eight votes of Texas, and twenty-nine votes of New York, but all of those states are solidly Republican or solidly Democratic, and therefore allow candidates to pay attention to states such as New Hampshire that would be ignored should our president be decided exclusively by popular vote.

None of this is to say, however, that the electoral college is perfect because it isn’t. The fact that our 45th president will have lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes is unacceptable: the majority of voting Americans did not want or select him. However, while the electoral college does have flaws, and this is the most egregious of them, it remains more viable to rid the system of those flaws through reform rather than abolition, which is in many ways too extreme a response.

This reform could come in several different forms: the seemingly simplest solution would be to depart from the winner-take-all method of allocating electoral votes in each state, which effectively silences the minority in that state who did not vote for the winning candidate, and instead award them to each candidate proportionally. This would ensure that all voices in each state are heard, while also allowing candidates to focus on smaller swing states, where even more votes could be earned, ultimately resulting in elections and elected officials more representative of all Americans.

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by Jeepers Media

by Aly Haley

Walking into any mall in the U.S., the first images you see are beautiful women plastered
all over store windows. Commercials play on everyone’s TVs, showcasing these women, and
advertising the ideal woman’s body. But are those ideals achievable? Are they even considered
the average woman?

It used to be that if you were above a size XXL in women’s clothing, your only options
were baggy sweats. Stores never really had a plus size range of clothes, but recently more and
more stores have developed their ranges to include sizes from 16 to 30. As someone who is
plus-sized, I couldn’t be happier, but sometimes this happiness is short-lived.

I often used to dream of being able to wear cute dresses from brands like Forever21, but
for the longest time I couldn’t. They just didn’t carry very many larges or extra-larges. The first
time I discovered the plus-size section in the Natick Mall’s Forever21, I couldn’t contain my
excitement. I was finally going to be able to wear clothes other than those from Old Navy.

But then I actually walked into the section. I mean sure, some clothes were cute, but it was as if the
designer decided that plus-size people can’t wear fashionable clothes.

Society holds this incredibly high standard for women, and especially teens, that they need
to be a flawless size two, but in reality, that’s not true. For the past 10 years, the average woman’s
size was a size 14. But a recent study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design,
Technology, and Education revealed that that size has actually increased to a 16 or 18. While this
study used 5,500 women over the age of 20, and not teenagers to determine this data, researchers
were able to determine that a woman’s average waist size has increased 2.6 inches over the past
21 years.

But then why are all these popular stores among teens and young adults (American Eagle,
Hollister, Pink, etc.) only carrying average sizes x-small to large? Even if I find a store with
my size, they only have one large or x-large, but I always find at least ten smalls in the same shirt
and color. If the average size of an American woman is bigger than what is being carried in
stores, then where are people in that average size supposed to shop? How can anyone expect a 16
year old in high school to shop at stores where all they find are outfits that match their teachers’?

Stores like Torrid, an exclusively plus size store, have created many lines that not only
are flattering and comfortable in plus sizes, but they’re also stylish. This is just one store though,
and it’s not a very common one. The closest one to me is in Natick, and while it’s not that far,
it’s in no way convenient.

Being plus size isn’t easy. It seems as if the entire fashion world has forgotten that there
are people whose waistline is bigger than a size two.

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by Dakota Antelman

by Clement Doucette

There has been a lot of talk recently about the STEM program, an initiative started by
President Obama to bolster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in
American schools. As a result, arts and music programs are frequently cut in low-income
schools. While analyzing a work of art or performing Beethoven’s Ninth may seem useless to a
physics major, these tasks aid in fostering new and creative ways of thinking. And perhaps
more importantly, without vivid culture, where would our society be today?

In many school districts, particularly the cash-strapped schools of inner-city Chicago, arts
and music programs are the first to be cut when budgeting difficulties arise. Although initiatives
to bolster art education in Chicago were enacted in 2013, a survey conducted in 2014 showed
that this program did not live up to its standards, which called for at least two hours of arts and
music education per week and an “arts liaison” for each school. An NBC Chicago report from 2014 revealed that 14 percent of Chicago schools were still without art education, and just over half offered less than two hours of arts instruction per week.

According to Edward Fiske of Columbia University, art education has a highly positive
effect on students of lower socioeconomic status. Thirty three percent of high school seniors
who had studied music scored high on mathematics testing, while only sixteen percent of those
who did not study music performed well.

Although STEM may provide these schools with a higher amount of science and
mathematics classes, it is clear that the arts are needed for youth to be successful in these
programs. The arts open up new ways for students to think and expand the creative horizons and
potentials of children with difficult lives.

But in the grander scheme, the arts simply give us a better cultural awareness and richer
lives. The arts define who we are.

Imagine a world devoid of music, film, sculpture, and painting. Imagine a world in
which we are constantly running equations, solving for “x”, and reading technical manuals rather
than literature. With each art teacher cut, we may lose a future Rembrandt.

As the music teachers fade away, so does our nation’s voice. Why? Because one underrepresented kid in the inner city did not have the platform to express himself. And as a result, our nation loses what
could have been a wonderful piece of our cultural identity. Rather, we will be known as the
nation of robots and technical manuals.

As a nation, we must examine our priorities. STEM is important, but it is not the be-all
end-all solution to our nation’s education crisis. For the betterment of ourselves and our country,
please save some room for art and music.

0 77
| by Mike Burton

by Caleb Brush

The main claim for paying college athletes is that, at colleges with high ranking athletic programs, players earn a tremendous amount of money for the schools through their elevated level of play.

According to research from Business Insider, the average college football player at a Division I-A school is worth $149,569 per year, while athletes are worth much more to top athletic programs. The average athlete at the most profitable schools, such as the University of Texas, is worth up to $622,104 per year.

Why doesn’t any of that money go to the athletes themselves? After all, they are the ones generating the income.

Some may argue that the athletes are in fact paid, not with money, but with substantial scholarships to receive a top-notch education. While the majority of athletes do receive scholarships, the majority of them do not gain a top-notch education.

To be an NCAA athlete, it takes hours upon hours of work in the gym and at practice each and every week. On average, a Division I-A NCAA football player practices over six hours per day.

With such hectic schedules, how much studying can they actually fit in? Is it enough to merit the use of degrees as payment?

Spending hours practicing, traveling, and competing severely impedes the ability of collegiate athletes to make it to class and study. In 2010, the average student athlete missed about two classes per week, which is a serious setback for college students.

The lack of focus on education is especially apparent when examining what types of degrees athletes are encouraged to pursue, with many of them being easy to attain, but not sought after by employers.

A prime example of this is the University of North Carolina’s use of “paper classes” to artificially inflate the GPA of athletes to keep them eligible for competition by the NCAA’s set standards. While these “paper classes” were an issue at just one university, the mentality behind instituting them is one that is shared among many others. The universities aren’t aiming to give athletes the quality education that they boast of; they just use education as an excuse to not pay students.

Since the majority of student athletes don’t go into the NFL, NBA, or any other professional sports league, there is no reason a practically useless degree should be considered fair payment.

The debate stretches far beyond just the low quality of education for student athletes. Not only are the college athletes not getting commensurate educations, but they also are risking severe, life-changing injuries, especially for those who wish to pursue professional athletics. Many of these incredibly gifted, athletic young adults have been training their whole lives for careers in athletics, but one injury can end their chances of competing at that next, professional level.

Though payment at the college level would not be high enough to offset the magnitude of the losses caused by possible career-ending injuries, at least the athletes would get something for their hard work and dedication.

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A large rainbow flag hangs from the The Berkley Building on Berkley Street in Boston. The flag was left hanging from the building throughout Saturday's pride parade. | Submitted Photo

by Dakota Antelman

On Saturday, June 11, I road the train into Boston for the annual gay pride parade there. Across from me, two men held hands. Next to me, a trio of women talked boisterously about their time at a lesbian nightclub the previous evening. An hour or so later I was standing on a sidewalk near Copley Square while hundreds of people slowly sauntered down the rainy Boston streets. They were waving rainbow flags and throwing various rainbow-speckled necklaces, bracelets and frisbees into the crowd. The mood was festive. Standing in the capital of one of the most liberal states in the nation, I felt as if the minority of which I am a part was not only tolerated but celebrated.

Just over 12 hours later, members of that same minority were shot en masse while they participated in a very similar celebration. As an event, the violent killings of 49 patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando serve as a grotesque reminder of the hatred which our society and our world has failed to eradicate. While we in Massachusetts see progress in our state’s culture, this persistent homophobia has continued to make life for LGBT Americans in other parts of the country unfair and unsafe.

This tragedy was surely not confined to the LGBT community. It broke the hearts of the city of Orlando. It served as a savage attack on the right to self expression. In identifying himself as an ISIS sympathizer, this gunman also broadened the scope of his attack to a national level. His gunshots represented all the evil of ISIS, each one attacking the democracy and freedom which ISIS condemns. Additionally, those gunshots each brought forth painful questions about guns in America. These are questions that have been asked after every mass shooting. They are, likewise, questions that go without answers or solutions. Despite repeated pleas by President Barack Obama for stronger gun control, the Orlando gunman was able to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle with a high capacity magazine that allowed him to shoot 30 times without reloading. He bought this weapon even after he was investigated twice by the FBI for suspected involvement in terrorism.

In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, President Obama notably referred to the violence as “an act of terror and an act of hate.” His sentiment was echoed by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni who wrote on Sunday afternoon that this attack was “no more an attack just on LGBT people than the bloodshed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was an attack solely on satirists.”

Nevertheless, the day after LGBT people in Boston and several other cities across the US took to the streets to proclaim their pride and self confidence, 49 LGBT people were murdered. This killing also took place less than a month shy of the one year anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage nationwide. These gut wrenching parallels prove that, despite all the progress in the gay rights movement, the struggle continues.

In Massachusetts in particular, where political progress for the LGBT community has been both visible and, in the case of gay marriage in the US, pioneered, we can forget what life is like for LGBT people nationwide.

The first four months of last year corresponded with a record number of anti-LGBT killings according the Anti-Violence Project, with homicides documented by the end of April. When national statistics for 2014 were released by the FBI last November, we also learned that transgender people were suddenly victims of an increased number of homicides. Ninety eight transgender people were killed in 2014, a staggering increase compared to the 31 transgender homicides in 2013.

Massachusetts LGBT people have also avoided the state-sanctioned discrimination that other states in the US have adopted in just the past few years and months. In March of last year, Indiana signed a “religious freedom” bill that effectively legalized discrimination against LGBT people. The bill was eventually struck down after harsh criticism in the media and pop culture. Seven months later, in November of last year, voters in Houston rejected a bill that would have granted transgender people legal protection to use the bathrooms that match their gender. As we celebrated the new year, North Carolina passed a bill legalizing LGBT discrimination in their state. Around the same time, a similar bill restricting the usage of bathrooms for transgender people was passed by the state legislature in Georgia, only to be vetoed by the governor as opposition grew. LGBT discrimination is also not limited to bathrooms. When ‘sexually active’ gay men arrived at Orlando blood donation centers on Sunday following the shooting, they were all told that they could not donate blood because of a law intended to prevent the spread of HIV.

Even in Hudson, our political progress has obscured pervasive homophobia in our community.  In one instance on the Monday immediately following the Orlando shooting, a student remarked that they would “feel worse [about the shooting] if the people killed were ‘normal’ people.”

If we are in some way abnormal, how are we in any way equal?

Overall, the violence in Orlando has brought the struggles of the LGBT community back into the public eye after a hiatus following last summer’s Supreme Court ruling. Yet even this fact is one that some politicians in the US have failed to acknowledge. It took House Speaker Paul Ryan two days to mention LGBT people in any of his speeches about the Orlando attack. In line with Ryan, Florida Governor Rick Scott egregiously omitted any mention of the LGBT community from his many public appearances in the hours and days after the shooting on Sunday. 

Before solving the larger problems that allowed this person to carry out a hate crime, we must see that the Orlando shooter was a deeply homophobic man. Independent of his ISIS-inspired hatred of America, this man despised any member of the LGBT community. He was a man who, by his father’s admission to NBC News, became enraged when he saw two men kissing in Miami. In choosing his target, this gunman allegedly also considered attacking a different gay club before settling on Pulse. He was intent on killing gay people.

In the shadow of the Orlando shooting, as the whole United States responds to the horrors it witnessed, we must learn a key lesson — as long as discrimination is legal in any part of our country, and as long as gay people are targeted and killed by their own countrymen, we cannot rest in the push for equality. The LGBT rights movement is just as important now as it ever was. This attack only reaffirmed that.